Thursday 22 February 2018

Olympics security not a shambles, insists British home secretary

Workmen fix signage in the London 2012 Olympic Park at Stratford in London July 12, 2012. Preparations for the London Olympics have put Britain's intelligence agencies under significant pressure, as the country stages its largest ever peacetime security operation, MPs said on Thursday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS)
Workmen fix signage in the London 2012 Olympic Park at Stratford in London July 12, 2012. Preparations for the London Olympics have put Britain's intelligence agencies under significant pressure, as the country stages its largest ever peacetime security operation, MPs said on Thursday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS)

Wesley Johnson in London

THE British government was forced to deny last night that Olympics security was a shambles.

Home secretary Theresa May was forced to defend plans for protecting the games after the military was called in to plug a gap left by the failure of the private security firm G4S.

With just two weeks to go until the opening ceremony, an extra 3,500 servicemen and women are being flown in after G4S said it might not be able to provide enough guards for all the venues. With more than £100m (€126.5m) wiped off the firm's market value and MPs accusing the company of letting the country down, Mrs May insisted ministers were only told of the "absolute gap in the numbers" yesterday.In its hour of need, the government turned to the troops, many of whom have recently served in Afghanistan and are facing cuts in the biggest re-structuring of the service for decades, to help keep the Olympics safe and secure for up to 10 million spectators. Warning orders started going out to troops at the weekend, putting them on shortened notice to move. But Mrs May denied it was a "shambles" and insisted there was "no question of Olympic security being compromised".

Asked whether there would be any financial penalties for G4S on its £284m (€359m) contract, Mrs May said the firm's deal was with organisers Locog, but she understood that penalty clauses were included.

A total of 17,000 servicemen and women will now be involved in the Olympics, including 11,800 soldiers, 2,600 sailors and marines, and 2,600 airmen. Overall, a 23,700-strong security force for the games will include a mix of military, private security guards and 3,000 unpaid London 2012 volunteers. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper added that the situation looked like "another Home Office shambles", with G4S falling 25pc short of its contract.

Irish Independent

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